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Horn player Denise Tryon in performance: her new disc features works showcasing the lower reaches of the instrument which is certainly true of their newest disc. Drawing from many corners of contemporary music, the ensemble slip into each piece with chameleon-like ease, as if the different styles and demands are all in a day’s work. Which isn’t to say the Del Sol players ever sound like they’re slumming. On the contrary, the musicians thrust themselves into the disc’s three diverse compositions, not only playing but also singing and even hissing. All of those abilities are required in Ken Ueno’s Peradam, a 20-minute burst of modernism with roots in a novel by René Daumal that features the titular object, described as ‘a rare mythical diamond-like stone’. Ueno portrays the phenomenon through myriad drones, riotous flights, group vocalism and, from versatile Del Sol viola player Charlton Lee, throat singing. The work is at once challenging and mesmerising.

The title of the disc, ‘Scrapyard Exotica’, comes from the second movement of Mason Bates’s Bagatelles for string quartet and electronica, whose own moniker should pique any listener’s curiosity. The electronica turns out to be samples of the Del Sol players that mix with the musicians’ acoustic contributions. Bates provides a smorgasbord of colourful and pulsating interactions, including elements from the worlds of jazz and pop.

The Del Sol are equally at home in Mohammed Fairouz’s The Named Angels, four movements built of haunting Middle Eastern material. You’re likely to find yourself playing the disc more than a few times in succession. Donald Rosenberg

‘So Low’ Anonymous Gummi Polka Askim A Door Into the Dark Clearfield River Melos T Martin Lament B Miller Hunting Songs Neuling Bagatelle Nielsen Canto serioso Pawelek Irremediable Breakdown Yenque Tanguito Denise Tryon hn Julie Nishimura pf Bridge F BRIDGE9455 (58’ • DDD)

Horn players who spend much of their time in the instrument’s low register tend to get the short end of the solo stick, a situation Denise Tryon has set out to remedy. On her new disc, the fourth hornist of the Philadelphia Orchestra performs works written for artists in the sonic nether regions and intended either for recital or audition purposes. The only composer most listeners may know is Carl Nielsen, but the other pieces show their creators in imaginative and appealing form.

From the audition side are Nielsen’s Canto serioso, a poetic and sweeping miniature, and Hermann Neuling’s Bagatelle, which blends Straussian swagger and songfulness as it subtly weaves descending episodes into the narrative. Likewise, many of the remaining pieces are cannily crafted to avoid signalling the fact that they’re written for low horn. Tim Martin’s Lament, for example, places the unaccompanied horn in a series of wailing episodes, complete with hand-stopped and ascending passages.

The instrument’s low register is exploited to dramatic effect in Peter Askim’s A Door Into the Dark, which evokes a blacksmith shaping metal with varied equipment. Brett Miller avoids the horn cliché of 6/8 galloping in his Hunting Songs by portraying crow, owl and falcon in music of atmospheric lyricism.

Tryon plays these works and other winning pieces by Nathan Pawelek, Dante Yenque and Andrea Clearfield with sonorous fluidity and dexterity, ending with a bit of captivating acrobatics, Gummi Polka by an anonymous composer. Julie Nishimura is an ideal partner whenever a piano is called upon to team with this down-but-definitely-never-out hornist. Donald Rosenberg

‘Soft Blink of Amber Light’ DiOrio A Dome of Many-Coloured Glass Hagen soft blink of amber light Oquin O magnum gramophone.co.uk

GRAMOPHONE JANUARY 2016 V